Meanjin: Vol. 64, No. 4, 2005
$22.95 pb, 216 pp
Like Monaco, journals are sunny places for shady people. Black sheep and dark horses have often found a first sanctuary there. Precarious principalities, they are built on the shifting sands of subsidies, sponsorships and subscriptions. But their lifeblood is won or lost at the roulette wheel of submissions and commissions.
You can tell a lot about a journal by the kind of company it keeps. The latest issue of Meanjin throws a loving arm around the shoulders of the mud-slung translator. While there’s no mistaking the red-carpet treatment, the mood of the contributions is anything but encomiastic. The thanks here goes to the translators themselves, ‘a largely self-effacing breed’, as Ian Britain notes in his editorial. Happily, they’ve been dragged out from under the subhead to speak for themselves. All are quick to concede that, given that perfect synonymic conversion between languages is impossible, translation is, to use Umberto Eco’s words, ‘the art of failure’.